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Canada’s indigenous communities must not be guinea pigs for useless Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

From the Hill — Small Modular Reactors, The Rossland Telegraph , by Dick Cannings MP on Monday Nov 30 2020,   Earlier this year, Seamus O’Regan, the Minister of Natural Resources said in a speech that “We are placing nuclear energy front and centre… This is nuclear’s moment.” And in discussions around building a new economy after COVID, the government is doubling down on those sentiments.  The latest debates are slightly different from those of the last fifty years as they involve a new technology:  Small Modular Reactors, or SMRs.   Spoiler alert–I don’t necessarily share the Minister’s unbridled enthusiasm for nuclear energy as the answer to all our prayers……..can nuclear power help us in our efforts to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the next few years?  SMRs represent an experimental technology that, according to industry experts, will not be producing power anywhere in Canada for about a decade.  Once the technology matures and SMRs can be produced in quantity, they could theoretically be cheaper than present, very expensive nuclear plants.  But those claims are very difficult to assess.

SMRs are often touted as a solution to get remote indigenous communities off diesel power.  While I am very much in favour of helping these communities find alternate power sources, SMRs do not fit the bill.  These communities want power generation solutions that they can build and manage themselves.  They want alternative power sources now, not in ten years.  And they do not want to be the guinea pigs for brand-new nuclear technology that will likely provide few jobs for local residents and cost significantly more than mature technologies such as solar, wind, and bioenergy.  A Special Chiefs Assembly of the Assembly of First Nations passed a unanimous resolution in December 2018 demanding “that the Government of Canada cease funding and support of the Small Modular Nuclear Reactors program.”

……… [smrs] shouldn’t be relied on by present day governments as the panacea to a clean energy future.  Even the Canada Energy Regulator (formerly the National Energy Board) predicts that SMRs will collectively contribute only the equivalent of half of a conventional hydro dam by 2050.

To reach meaningful targets by 2030 and 2040, we need to double down on technologies we know will get us there…… And energy efficiency efforts alone could get us almost half-way to our targets.  These are the routes to success.

December 1, 2020 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Safety dangers of small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs)

Nuclear power isn’t the answer to Nunavut’s energy problems, expert says. Nicole Bogart Writer, @nlynnbogart, November 27, 2020 TORONTO — Despite growing interest from the federal government and nuclear proponents, the Canadian Environmental Law Association warns that the safety implications of small modular reactors (SMRs) may outweigh the environmental pay off.

Theresa McClenaghan, executive director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, says despite proponents’ claims that Canada’s North is a promising market for the small, transportable reactors, the technology isn’t suited for remote locations.

“They’re very inappropriate for remote locations. They’re very inappropriate for anywhere,” McClenaghan told CTV’s Your Morning Friday.

“You’d be talking about creating new kinds of waste that we don’t already have in Canada… [and] having to worry about very long distance transportation.” ……

The federal government has invested in research into the technology and is set to release an SMR action plan with a focus on Canada’s North by the end of this year.

Alberta, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Ontario have all signed a memorandum of understanding regarding development of small modular reactors…….

McClenaghan says the government is missing key concerns, including the security of the reactors.

“A very serious concern that no one is talking about is non-proliferation risks – and the risk of a diversion of the materials to weapons,” she said.

“That’s a serious risk for any nuclear technology. But especially when you start to distribute the materials like this and have less control, [and] the industry is hoping they can just leave the units without operators.”

McClenaghan adds that despite the industry’s claims that nuclear power doesn’t produce greenhouse gases, the production of SMRs would.

“Nuclear does produce greenhouse gases because you have to mine, transport, and refine. In fact, the full life cycle is two times as much as solar and six times as much as onshore wind,” she explained.

There are also growing concerns about the implications for Indigenous communities in Canada.

The Northwest Territories Energy Strategy is calling for communities to decide. There’s a whole history of decisions being made and imposed in communities. That’s how a lot of the diesel ended up there in the first place,” McClenaghan said, noting that affordable energy remains the biggest rallying cry for these communities.

“I have seen quite a bit of interest in hybrid systems where they can start to reduce the reliance on diesel, but take advantage for the times of year when solar isn’t available.”

November 28, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Canada’s environmental groups join to oppose experimental Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

Canadian environmental groups oppose experimental small modular nuclear reactors,   By Janice MacKay   November 24, 2020 A number of groups have joined together to ask the federal government to halt its plans to fund experimental new small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs).

The Federal Government is preparing to launch the federal government’s SMR ” Action Plan” within weeks.

The SMR Action Plan is expected to include a strategy to fund and support the development of experimental nuclear reactors by private sector companies, the majority based in the US and UK.

In a media release, dozens of organizations from coast to coast have called the proposed new nuclear reactors a dirty, dangerous distraction from tackling climate change. They include Greenpeace Canada, Friends of the Earth Canada, Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive, Équiterre, the Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick, the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility and Northwatch..

The Bloc Québécois, the NDP and the Green Party all oppose the government’s “small” modular nuclear reactor plan.

On November 13, Monique Pauze from the Bloc Québécois stated: “The Bloc Québécois denounces the intention of Ottawa to invest in nuclear energy to the benefit, once again, of the Ontario industrial sector, instead of financing the transition towards clean electricity. The Bloc calls for the abandonment of the anticipated deployment of small modular nuclear reactors. The Federal government is leading Canada towards a wall by betting on nuclear energy that is absolutely not clean.”

NDP natural resources critic Richard Cannings said in a statement: “Many Canadians have concerns about impacts of nuclear energy. When it comes to energy generation there are better ways forward. We have options that are cheaper and safer and will be available quicker. I think we should be supporting the development of energy storage solutions to help roll out renewables like solar and wind on a larger scale instead.”

On November 10, all three Green Party of Canada caucus members issued a statement and signed a letter to Minister O’Regan and Minister Navdeep Bains saying that: “Small nuclear reactors (SMRs) have no place in any plan to mitigate climate change when cleaner and cheaper alternatives already exist. The federal government must stop funding the nuclear industry and instead redirect investments towards smarter solutions. Nuclear fails on many grounds, including on the economics.”

Prof. Susan O’Donnell from the Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick said: “Building new nuclear reactors does not belong in a climate action plan. Leading researchers have shown that investing in renewable energy is the best path to net zero and that adding nuclear energy to the mix actually hinders rather than helps.”

Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Director of Programs at Greenpeace Canada, said: “The Liberal government is throwing good money after bad. Hypothetical new nuclear power technologies have been promising to be the next big thing for the last forty years, but in spite of massive public subsidies, that prospect has never panned out.”

The release pointed out the proposed reactors are still on the drawing board and will take a decade or more to develop. If built, their power will cost ten times more than wind or solar energy. The most advanced SMR project to date in the US has already doubled its estimated cost – from $3B to over $6B.

The federal government announced its first SMR grant of $20 million to Terrestrial Energy on October 15.

The environmental groups said they are shocked that the government is funding new nuclear energy development with no parliamentary review, while trying to avoid public scrutiny and debate. They called the consultation process leading to date on the SMR Action Plan a sham. Individuals and groups could only comment on the plan if they first signed on to a statement of principles supporting SMR technologies. They say nuclear power and uranium mining will always be dirty and dangerous. Radioactive waste will have to be kept out of the environment for tens of thousands of years, and there is no known means of achieving that.

November 26, 2020 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Serious technical problems for the much hyped molten salt nuclear reactor

November 24, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, technology | Leave a comment

Concerns in Utah cities about costs and safety of NuScam’s small nuclear reactor scheme

November 23, 2020 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Examining Britain’s 10 Point Plan – Small Modular Nuclear Reactors downgraded, as renewables are cheaper and better?

November 21, 2020 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

USA revives plan for fast nuclear reactor, despite terrorism risks

November 21, 2020 Posted by | reprocessing, USA | Leave a comment

British govt’s foolhardy plan to pay up for non existent Rolls Royce small nuclear reactors

Guardian 17th Nov 2020, Boris Johnson’s £12bn plan for a “green industrial revolution” spans renewable energy, nuclear power and countryside restoration. However, some of the objectives are likely to be difficult to reach, and the plan has been criticised for a lack of ambition in key areas.
Tom Burke, chair of the E3G thinktank, said: “The only way to build another big nuclear reactor is if the government puts electricity bills up twice to pay for it – first to buy the concrete and steel to build it and then again to buy its electricity at far higher price than renewable generators will be charging.
[And] the main problem with small modular reactors is that no one has one for sale – not even Rolls-Royce. They are actually offering to design one but only if the government will guarantee a £32bn order for 16 and pays half the £400m cost of the design. One word for deciding to go ahead on this basis is ‘brave’, a more appropriate word might be ‘foolhardy’.”

November 19, 2020 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

Canadian government misplacing funding into unviable small nuclear reactors for North West Territories

Is small-scale nuclear energy an option for the N.W.T.?   

N.W.T., federal gov’t looking closely at industry, but some say they should focus only on renewable energy, Hannah Paulson · CBC News  Nov 18, 2020  “…….  both the federal government and the Northwest Territories look to transition away from fossil fuels, territorial leaders are exploring how small-scale nuclear energy could alleviate the North’s dependency on diesel.

In October, the federal government announced it was investing $20 million into small modular nuclear energy reactors

…….The N.W.T. government has also shown interest in this form of energy and identified it as an emerging energy technology that it follows “closely,” according to a written statement from the Department of Infrastructure.

Others, however, think the federal funding is misplaced.

Last week, the Green Party of Canada called on the federal government to abandon nuclear energy and invest in renewable energy instead.

In a press release, MP Elizabeth May said that “small nuclear reactors (SMRs) have no place in any plan to mitigate climate change when cleaner and cheaper alternatives exist.”

May cited issues with the high costs involved in nuclear energy, the long timeline to rollout, and the environmental risk.

What is small-scale nuclear energy?

SMRs is a term that represents “a range of technology,” said Diane Cameron, director of nuclear energy at Natural Resources Canada.

The federal government’s $20-million investment is toward Terrestrial Energy, an Oakville, Ont., firm that is working to bring SMRs to market. That technology is still in the design phase, but could become commercially viable in five to 10 years, said Cameron……..

N.W.T. part of small-scale nuclear group

The Northwest Territories is among several jurisdictions and energy corporations that are part of a working group looking at how small-scale nuclear reactors could be used across the country.

The working group “has recognized the potential for application in off-grid small and remote communities and for remote industrial sites that rely on diesel,” the Department of Infrastructure said in a statement.

The statement also said that there needs to be more information about whether SMRs would be technically viable, safe, reliable and cost effective in the North.

The Department of Infrastructure considers small-scale nuclear energy a long-term initiative.

Cameron said SMRs could be commercially viable anywhere from 2025 to 2030, but before it’s likely to be brought up to the N.W.T., it will be tested in national labs.

If that is successful, the technology could make its wat into communities, but that might not be for another 20 or so years, she said.

‘Not the answer to climate change’

In a 2018 UN report, scientists warned that there were only 12 years left to drastically reduce global emissions in order to avert the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.

This is part of the reason why May and other environmentalists don’t think small-scale nuclear energy is part of “the answer to climate change.”

Theresa McClenaghan, the executive director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, said the industry requires extremely high startup costs, which divert attention away from renewable energy.

Funding should be going toward existing renewable energy sources that are currently viable, like geothermal, solar, or wind energy, she said. “These are not pipe dreams. These are existing technologies where the price is coming down practically by the day,” said McClenaghan.

“It’s not to say we don’t want an alternative to diesel, but that alternative should be renewables.”

November 19, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

UK government wastes tax-payer money on small and large nuclear reactors that will never be cheap or safe

FoE Scotland 17th Nov 2020, Friends of the Earth Scotland gave a scathing reaction to the UK Government’s announcement of a 10-point plan on climate and energy, calling for much more priority on solutions which can reduce emissions and create jobs today.
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Director, Dr RichardDixon, said: “This much-trailed 10-point plan is deeply disappointing. In this Climate Emergency, what we needed was investment in measures that would reduce emissions drastically over the next decade and create greenjobs immediately.
Instead, the UK Government is clearly living in fantasy land with far too much reliance on long-term false solutions to the climate
crisis like carbon capture and storage, hydrogen and nuclear. “While there are some crumbs from the table in terms of the welcome new target of 2030 to phase out fossil-fuelled cars, overall there is too little new money and too much funding committed to long-term, dangerous distractions.
The funding on the table is a fraction of what’s needed to bring emissions down over the next decade, and the plan lacks credible detail about how it would create decent green jobs and ensure a truly just andgreen recovery from COVID-19. “At a time when electricity from renewables is getting cheaper and cheaper it is impossible to understand why the UK Government continues to throw public money at eye-wateringly expensive large reactors and falls for the nuclear industry’s latest myth, that small modular reactors dotted around the country will ever be cheap or safe.””
Fortunately Scotland has turned its back on new reactors”

November 19, 2020 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

In the face of public opposition, Ottawa delays small nuclear reactor plan

Ottawa delays small nuclear reactor plan as critics decry push for new reactors,  Yahoo Finance Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press, Thu., November 19, 2020,   “……… Industry critics were quick to pounce on the government’s expected SMR announcement. They called on Ottawa to halt its plans to fund the experimental technology.

.. a major problem facing the industry is its growing mound of radioactive waste. This week, the government embarked on a round of consultations about what do with the dangerous material.

Dozens of groups, including the NDP, Bloc Quebecois, Green Party and some Indigenous organizations, oppose the plan for developing small modular reactors. They want the government to fight climate change by investing more in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“We have options that are cheaper and safer and will be available quicker,” Richard Cannings, the NDP natural resources critic, said in a statement.  …

Joe McBrearty, head of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, told the conference the company had signed a host agreement this week with Ottawa-based Global First Power for a demonstration SMR at its Chalk River campus in eastern Ontario. A demonstration reactor will allow for the assessment of the technology’s overall viability, he said

November 19, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, the nuclear industry’s latest pipe dream.

Ramana and Schacherl: Why the Liberals’ nuclear power plan is a pipe dream

Not only is this form of power expensive compared to the alternatives, we still haven’t resolved issues around radioactive contamination and hazardous waste streams.

M.V. Ramana, Eva Schacherl, Nov 16, 2020   On Nov. 18, Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan will announce the federal government’s action plan for small modular nuclear reactors, the nuclear industry’s latest pipe dream.

At least a dozen corporations around the world are hoping for taxpayer funding to further develop their SMR designs, all of which are still on the drawing board. Last month, the federal government handed out $20 million to Terrestrial Energy. Other expectant entities include SNC-Lavalin, which bought Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.’s CANDU division and is developing a CANDU SMR; United Kingdom-based Moltex Energy; and Seattle-based Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation.

The Liberal government says it supports small modular reactors to help Canada mitigate climate change. The government is simply barking up the wrong tree, for several reasons: cost, cost and cost, as well as renewables, safety and radioactive waste.

Nuclear power is very expensive compared to other low-carbon options, and the difference keeps growing because the cost of renewables and energy storage is going down rapidly. Peter Bradford, a former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission official, likened the use of nuclear power to mitigate climate change to fighting world hunger “with caviar.”

The high price tag for nuclear power plants has led to a near freeze on new ones around the world. Canada’s last nuclear plant came online in 1994, and Ontarians will remember when plans for two reactors at Darlington were shelved in 2009 after a $26-billion bid – three times the expected budget. Nuclear projects also have a long history of cost and time overruns. The cost estimate of NuScale, the most advanced SMR project in the U.S., has gone up from $4.2 billion to $6.1 billion. That works out to almost 10 times the cost per kilowatt of building wind power in Alberta. There is no way SMRs can be cost-competitive with wind or solar energy.

O’Regan has said he doesn’t know any way to get to net zero-carbon emissions by 2050 without nuclear power, but this is refuted by many studies. Ontario can meet its electricity demand using only renewables and hydro power backed up by storage technologies. A recent study using data from 123 countries shows that renewable energy outperforms nuclear power in reducing emissions. It concludes that nuclear investments just get in the way of building up renewable energy.

Advocates claim that we need nuclear energy to back up solar and wind power when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. However, nuclear reactors cannot be powered up and down rapidly and safely. If they are, their cost of generating electricity increases further. Nor do nuclear plants run reliably all the time. In France, which generates 70 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power, each reactor was shut down for an average of 96.2 days in 2019.

The federal government sees small reactors playing a role in remote off-grid communities and mines that now rely on diesel. But together they require less than 0.5 per cent of Canada‘s electricity generation capacity. Power from SMRs could be 10 times more expensive for those communities than adding wind and solar energy. There is also strong opposition to SMRs from First Nations communities, who say these represent an unacceptable risk.

The risk from nuclear power comes in multiple forms. There is the potential for accidents leading to widespread radioactive contamination. Because reactors involve parts that interact rapidly in complex ways, no nuclear reactor is immune to accidents. And they all produce radioactive nuclear waste streams that remain hazardous for up to one million years. Dealing with these is a major challenge, and there is no demonstrated solution to date.

Canada has a big challenge ahead: to decarbonize by 2050. Let’s get on with it, in the quickest and most cost-effective way: by improving the efficiency of our energy use, and building out solar, wind and storage technologies. The federal Green Party is correct in stating that nuclear reactors “have no place in any plan to mitigate climate change when cleaner and cheaper alternatives exist.” Let’s forget the dirty, dangerous distraction of small nuclear reactors.

M.V. Ramana is the Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security and Director of the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia. Eva Schacherl is an advocate for protecting the Ottawa River and for environmental and social justice.

November 17, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Unanswered questions cloud the future of NuScam’s Small Modular Nuclear Reactor project

Questions Remain About ID Nuclear Reactor Project

By NORTHERN ROCKIES NEWS SERVICE  16 Nov 20,   Questions are being raised about the future of NuScale Power’s Idaho project to bring nuclear energy to cities in the Mountain West.

NuScale‘s small, modular reactor design is the first of its kind to be approved in the United States. The new, compact concept is made up of 12 small reactors and will be located at the Idaho National Laboratory.

Sarah Fields, program director with the group Uranium Watch, said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission needs to scrutinize the project carefully. In particular, she said she’s concerned about a proposal for fewer people to oversee the project.

“They want to reduce the number of operators, and that’s just to save money,” said Fields. “And the NRC is undergoing a review of that.”.

NuScale said the project needs fewer operators because of its design is simpler and the controls involve more automation. The NRC is reviewing the proposal, which could involve policy changes since the approval process is based on conventional nuclear power plant designs.

The NRC has approved the Design Certification Application for the project in its current form. But Fields said the agency still has to authorize certain aspects of the design.

One NRC engineer has raised questions about dilution of boron water around reactor cores, which could cause a dangerous power surge even if the reactor is shut down. Fields said it could be hard to make modifications once aspects of the design are approved.

“It’s like designing a house,” said Fields. “And once you want to change one thing about the house, then you have to make all different kinds of adjustments. And then, get approvals from that.”

November 17, 2020 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Relentless lobbying by Small Nuclear Reactor companies still doesn’t make them economic or safe

Telegraph 14th Nov 2020  ”………Rolls-Royce, via a relentless lobbying campaign over the past few years, seems to have convinced the Government that its “mini-nukes” project is a runner. It claims billions are needed from taxpayers to underpin investment in a new production line that will reduce the costs and risks compared with bespoke new reactors such as the £22bn monster at Hinkley Point C.

There are plenty of reasons to be sceptical that even with its nuclear submarine experience, Rolls and its partners can pull it off. The technology is unproven anywhere and – as anti-nuclear campaigners argue – more reactors inevitably mean more potential points of failure. Nuclear power has a poor record of delivering its budgets too…….”

November 16, 2020 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

Quite a lot of hurdles for NuScam’s Utah project, and only 27 of UAMPS members signed up

November 16, 2020 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment